Should Bulldog Nation consider 2013 season a success?

Chris Conley plants the school colors on Grant Field. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Chris Conley plants the school colors on Grant Field. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

I know there are lots of UGA fans out there who look at the Dogs’ just-completed 8-4 record and fume about another year without Mark Richt bringing an SEC championship or that elusive national title to Athens.

A season that, at the end of September, looked so promising with a Top 5 placement, huge wins over a pair of Top 10 teams and BCS championship chatter ended up so-so by UGA standards — in large part due to an unusually large number of injuries to key offensive players that put the kibosh on Georgia’s plan to outscore everyone while an inexperienced defense learned the ropes.

It definitely was a schizophrenic kind of year. On the one hand, no season that includes a loss to Vanderbilt (even the new, improved James Franklin brand of Commodores football) and doesn’t include a trip to the SEC Championship Game is going to sit well with most of Bulldog Nation. While Richt hasn’t made a habit of eight-win regular seasons, keep in mind that a steady diet of them resulted in Jim Donnan being shoved out the exit of Butts-Mehre.

But despite the Dogs’ sensational September start — which came within 3 points at Clemson of being flat-out phenomenal — was it ever truly realistic to expect Georgia’s offense, however talented, to be able to carry the team through an entire season despite the glaring defensive shortcomings? Even if they’d remained healthy, that would have been defying the odds.

As it was, even with the plethora of offensive stars lost for part of or the rest of the season, just the absence of Todd Gurley alone for three games was probably enough to make such a dream all but impossible.

Still, in the end, can we really be unhappy with a season that included Georgia victories over South Carolina, LSU, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia Tech, and nearly saw the Dogs take down Clemson and Auburn as well?

While 2013 may not go down as one of the greatest seasons ever of Georgia football, I don’t think there’s any way it fairly can be called less than successful. As Richt said, “I think there are a lot of good things that have happened this year, but it’s also been heartbreaking at times.”

As for those of you who judge a season strictly by championships won, well, most of the time you’re going to wind up disappointed. If you can’t find a silver lining in the performance of this year’s never-say-die Cardiac Comeback Kids, I’ve got to wonder why you bother to follow college football at all.

So, what do you think about this season — a success or not?

Now, on to some more thoughts and observations from Saturday’s 12th win over Tech under Richt …

Speaking of that inexperienced defense, the game against Tech saw some familiar patterns still applying on Todd Grantham’s side of the ballgame: getting off to a poor start that results in the team having to dig its way out of a scoring hole; and generally good to fine play against the run but woeful play in the secondary against the pass. Giving up a career passing day to a running QB like Vad Lee is never a good thing.

My initial reaction during the game was to lament that Georgia’s secondary looked worse in the regular season closer than it did in the opener against Clemson, which made you wonder just what defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos had spent this season doing. After 12 games, even true freshmen would be expected to play the pass better than the Dogs did against the Jackets. The combination of youth, inconsistency on the part of lone veteran Damian Swann and generally clueless play by the safeties made Georgia’s pass defense a wreck this year.

But, in fairness, Lakatos did not have a lineup that had played 12 games. Thanks to a combination of overall inexperience that saw true freshmen starting, unsuccessful lineup experiments (Brendan Langley early on) and persistent injury problems (especially to safety Tray Matthews), against Tech, Georgia started its seventh different secondary lineup this season. And even that lineup got shaken up during the game by yet more injuries. It’s tough to build consistency when you never know who’s going to be back there from quarter to quarter, much less week to week.

The hope is next year will see improvements, though Georgia’s perennial offensive line underperformance shows that experience alone won’t make players good.

Tech running back Robert Godhigh is stopped by Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson (51) and defensive end Sterling Bailey. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Tech running back Robert Godhigh is stopped by Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson (51) and defensive end Sterling Bailey. (Jason Getz / AJC)

On the other hand, although the Jackets took a 20-point lead early in the game while the Bulldogs offense sputtered with its new starting quarterback, Grantham’s defense again improved as the day wore on, held Tech to just 7 points in the second half of regulation play, and came up with several key stops late in the game that allowed the Dogs to prevail, just as almost happened at Auburn.

If Grantham could figure out how to open a game like that, it sure would be easier. However, it remains to be seen if the arrow is really “up” for the defense, as the defensive coordinator maintained after the game. …

Despite the first quarter, there were a number of defensive performances Saturday worth applauding. Just as they have been all season, linebackers Amarlo Herrera (12 tackles) and Ramik Wilson (9) were clutch players all day. And Wilson broke up the pass on the game’s final play. Josh Harvey-Clemons’ interception was a turning point. Swann had a really big play on Tech’s failed third-down conversion that resulted in them punting the ball away late in the fourth quarter. And Leonard Floyd’s stop on third down in the second overtime was a thing of beauty. …

Was there ever a more useless replay official than the clown who ruled that Michael Bennett reception incomplete rather than a catch-and-fumble as the video clearly showed? I liked the ABC broadcast crew reaction to the poor call being upheld: “How is that possible?” …

It may be sort of like the dog in the night who wasn’t heard, but for this season the lack of any special teams foul-ups was especially notable Saturday. And Marshall Morgan quietly has become money in the bank. …

One more thing: I absolutely loved the way Hutson Mason wound up his postgame interview on the Bulldogs radio coverage, offering a heartfelt “Go Dogs!” A player who sounds like a fan is definitely a keeper.

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416 comments Add your comment

MT

December 1st, 2013
10:08 pm

Good season, but not great. Need a lot better play from the secondary next year to be successful. Offense will still be good.

Billy Ryckman

December 1st, 2013
10:09 pm

We were three defensive players and two defensive coaches away from a national championship. Richt was firey this year. I think that he will be at UGA as long as he wants. This year, inspite of the heartbreaks. solidified Richt as the coach of UGA until he is as old as Bobby Bowden.

Malinda

December 1st, 2013
10:10 pm

I love this team because they never gave up….they easily could have hung their heads and not give their best. Injuries were truly devastating to key players. I like what most players said, “next man up”. We are watching a game after all..a bunch of college age young men. Enjoy the game for what it is. We lost 4 games, but the 2013 Bulldawgs fought to the end! I could not be more proud of them!

Kyle in Alabama

December 1st, 2013
10:16 pm

Bill,

I’m glad to see i’m not the only person who sees the consistently mediocre O-line as a major issue with the consistency of the offense. Imagine how good our play action attack would be if we had a solid O-line.

I highly doubt that Grantham goes anywhere this offseason, however I would hope that at least Lakatos is replaced.

Your thoughts?

Go Dawgs!

TheAustinDawg

December 1st, 2013
10:18 pm

Great post, Bill, but Grantham and Lakatos have to go. I know Richt said he wouldn’t make the change himself, but I wonder if behind the scenes, he’s working the phone lines to the NFL to get Grantham a job there so he could avoid a firing. There’s no debate on the failure of Lakatos…I’ve never seen a unit more unaware, unimproved and unprepared than the 2013 Secondary of Georgia.

As for a success? No, 8-4 is 8-4. As for injuries, this is another thing Richt has refused to address: Strength & Conditioning. We have a completely unqualified man in Joe Tereshinski II running our S&C program, with no background that makes him remotely qualified to be in charge of such an insanely important part of Georgia’s program. If you want to talk about injuries, let’s talk about Tereshinski’s program and why so many injuries are happening. Why so many more than rival SEC schools that have people ACTUALLY QUALIFIED to run an S&C program?

Again, Richt needs to act here if he wants to avoid 2014 being the same kind of disappointing season 2013 has been. So no, 8-4 is not OK. 10-2 I could have accepted. But 8-4 after being top 5 pre-season is unacceptable.

Cali Dawg

December 1st, 2013
10:24 pm

No. Salvaged, but not a success.

Cali Dawg

December 1st, 2013
10:27 pm

We really need a ST Coach. It’s killing us.

Athenzdawg

December 1st, 2013
10:34 pm

Yes i loved getting embarrassed by a back up QB, almost losing to North Texas on homecoming. And Special teams and a offensive line that was horrid all year such great things to look forward too Hurray for another year of average and being mediocre!

Glendale Dawg

December 1st, 2013
10:48 pm

As you said Bill, wins over SC, LSU, FLA and Tech in a given year is all well and good, but a loss to Vandy is still a real stomach punch. While Alabama has superior depth to us, and coaching, if they were to experience the types of personnel losses we had this year, (lose Cooper for the year and Yeldon for 4 games) I think they lose to LSU and maybe even Texas A&M. Get a bowl game win and 9 wins is a soid, albeit slightly disappointing year

Strange Murphy

December 1st, 2013
10:49 pm

Dawg Fud

December 1st, 2013
10:53 pm

TheAustinDawg hit the nail on the head.

Special Teams also a freaking disaster.

Grantham being retained for 2014?

I love Coach Richt but wake up man. He is determined to go down with the ship. Unbelievable…

John Stancil

December 1st, 2013
10:55 pm

While not the season we anticipated at the beginning, you can’t complain. This team did great, given all the adversity that it faced from injuries.

hind tit

December 1st, 2013
11:10 pm

I think on my part i just get tired of having to get into a scoring contest every year to win a game. I know we had a young defense this year but what about the last 6 or7 years. Nothing has changed under the last two defensive coaches. Even last year with a veteran defense we couldn’t adjust until the last half even against a weak team. Stop with the Bobo trash talk because if it wasn’t for him we would have a losing record every year. I look for teams to come hard after him after the season is over. The man knows how to develop a QB.

SoGaDawg

December 1st, 2013
11:17 pm

Love Coach Mark Richt and believe in his ability and mentoring with the players.Grantham assures mediocrity. Without Bobo, Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley and an explosive offense we are under .500. Without a “no-quit” attitude, we are under .500. Lack of preparation demonstrated by confusion, running to catch receivers and generally out of position and no improvement from beginning of year in the secondary. I know the players are giving their all. Get used to 8-4 and UF and UT will be back. Hoping I am wrong. Leaning on “improvement over Donnan” as progress is certainly expecting less than is possible. 7 BCS titles in a row by the SEC and not one from UGA. That speaks volumes. Are we happy to be second or third as best possible finish each year? That is the question. Ready for SC, UM, UF, UT finising ahead of us each year? Its possible next year. Thanks players for giving your best. Thanks Coach Richt for being the person you are and thank you Aaron Murray for a great season and God Bless.

gsuga

December 1st, 2013
11:19 pm

Emphasis on special teams improves the chances that a team will score in other ways beside offense and defense. Not promoting those opportunities as important to a game is asking for trouble. It cost us big time this year.

Bobo should add to his offensive knowledge by looking at other successful offenses in the country.

Starring Khigh Dhiegh as Wo Fat

December 1st, 2013
11:21 pm

Lose them all except Tech and you still have a good year. 12-1 Bugs. Take that one to the bank.

hassamgreen

December 2nd, 2013
12:57 am

No season is good w/o an SEC Champ game!!!! Other than loss to Vandy…good season DAWGGIES!

hassamgreen

December 2nd, 2013
12:58 am

And we beat GTBOBBIES wistless Jackets!

Boykin

December 2nd, 2013
1:20 am

SoGaDawg best blog ever on bulldawgs!

Castle pine canine

December 2nd, 2013
1:30 am

Heard a lot about special teams, how is Bama’s emphasis working out this week? Defense was bad, but did improve. Secondary against Tech, tough to play defense against that option if they commit to the pass to loosen the run. The secondary made the last big plays, it is hard to put them down. O line is the place to strengthen. D will improve this year. Good year, but not the best

Coach Williams

December 2nd, 2013
1:45 am

UGA Defense, Special Teams and Strength & Conditioning… without real fixes here its 8-4 all decade. But
Generally it is Jimmy’s and Joe’s over X’s and O’s… except when the “Plan” is undefined or unspecific. A case in point was the pseudo hail-Mary Auburn beat us on… situational-football boys, 4th and forever with no time left. We don’t need an interception, just knock-it-down… in situational-football its always on the Coach.

Moist Dawg

December 2nd, 2013
4:55 am

why would we consider this year a success? are we getting ready to play in atlanta? are we getting ready to play in pasadina? we are uga not tech loosers. we expect greatness and if we arent playing for championships then we arent having a good season. its to bad that we had so many injurys and bad ref calls this season. it sickens me for the players but looking at our recruting class we should be loaded next season.

NoAxeToGrind

December 2nd, 2013
5:22 am

Any dawg fan who considers this year to be a satisfactory season has no interest in a championship caliber program. The longer Richt hangs around, the longer this season will be the norm. Forget about championships and BCS bowls. Enjoy!

Daniel#12

December 2nd, 2013
6:05 am

NO!!!! I do not consider and 8-4 season successful. An inconsistent running game, porous defense, poor special teams and a confused coaching staff that again cannot get the right 11 players on the field (even after a timeout) do not add up to a successful season. Settle for mediocracy and you will get mediocracy over and over. The very idea that a season with a loss Vandy, a loss to an
ACC team and overtime wins over an ACC team and a losing Tennessee team is just powdering the pig.

RangerDawgGpmizer

December 2nd, 2013
6:09 am

We have been saying “maybe next year” for 13 seasons. Guess what we will be saying after season 14? I suppose the “young offensive line” will be the excuse next year. Go dawgs………

Columbus Dawg

December 2nd, 2013
6:24 am

Pressure is about to brought from some LARGE Hartman Fund Contributors in a meeting with McGarity, soon. This I know for fact as I talked to good friend who is a big booster, and he and at least four other Big Dawgs are scheduling a meeting with GM to discuss what he called “A comedy of errors”. He said that he does not really expect an outside hire for special teams, but that a coach already on staff will be given the responsibility, possibly someone like Lilly the tight ends coach. Grantham may be back, but he is going to be put under enormous pressure to get the D fixed. My friend has been a large booster for over thirty five years, and has held a SkySuite in Sanford ever since they were added. In all these years I have never seen him do anything like this. He and many others are fed up with this crap year after year. Richt and Grantham will fully understand what is expected of them. I actually think they will get it fixed.

muleshoe

December 2nd, 2013
6:49 am

We were three defensive players and two defensive coaches away from a national championship.
=====================
really??????

legionaire

December 2nd, 2013
7:00 am

The season was actually better than I thought it would be. You win with defense. Bama does it year after year. You were kind with the assessment of the D backfield. Special Teams will neve get any better the way it is done but who am I to differ from Richt who thinks it is just peachy and just needs to be “tightened up”. The O line was still making motion and off sides penalties just as badly late in the season as the opening game. In short Richt has many fires to put out and I don’t see that happening if he maintains that there will be no changes.

JB

December 2nd, 2013
7:16 am

Correct. losing 3 starters off the OL will be the excuse next year. Auburn did what they did this year with a new staff and most of the players off that 3-9 from the year before. Unreal. I really don’t think Richt has the mind set to set our guys up to win every week. I’m not there, but I can see the finished product every week.

JB

December 2nd, 2013
7:21 am

Bill, you are asking the wrong people. The school Prez Morehead, The AD, the Athletic Board…..are ALL happy. ” we’re behind you all the way coach”…. ” We’re so close coach”…… ” great guy isn’t he”
Bank account full of money. and that’s whats important at the end of the day. 13 years and more to come. The fans have given up on anything more, because they can’t do anything about it.

JB

December 2nd, 2013
7:27 am

And by the way. If you get a chance to watch the replay this week. Watch the play of the Tech secondary at the snap of the ball. They would come up and bust our wideouts in the chops to disrupt their timing and patterns….TECH !… Now, they didn’t have the talent and speed to stay with them, but SOMEBODY is coaching over there to try to give them some advantage..

Wayne

December 2nd, 2013
7:30 am

Same old story line to end the season…would of could of should of….everyone is giddy now that we beat tech. Bottom line, we have the same problems that have led to our downfall season after season after season…Defense and special teams. That this coach AND the AD sit here and feed us total BS about “it was the injuries” is a slap in the face to those of us that send $$$$$$ each year to this University. Last year we had an NFL defense and same results. How many times have we given up 30+ points in the last 4 years?????? Unfortunately for those of us that love this University- Tech could not keep the pedal on the metal and come up with a blowout. Yes, I said it! We need something to FORCE change and until it happens we will have the same crap year after year. Way to much talent for the results we get. Its like Spurrier said- I dont know what happens to the players when they get to UGA. NONE of our players are having any problems in the NFL…..makes you wonder doesnt it? We always have an excuse in Athens…bottom line These coaches and AD ARE NOT COMMITTED TO WINNING! Hope anyone who received the survey earlier this year made that clear as that was one of the questions. Funny, McGarity has been silent while this fanbase implodes over this crap….DONE!

Wayne

December 2nd, 2013
7:33 am

Columbus Dawg- I can only hope and pray what you said comes to be!

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 2nd, 2013
7:56 am

NO – is that simple enough for YOU?
An SEC east championship would have been success.

Rumor is Dontavius Russell (DT) decommitted last night. Heard anything of this?

RHall

December 2nd, 2013
7:58 am

Columbus Dawg…correct crap year after year…keep on staff…Lily, Bobo (his style fits the scheme of QB’s not a dual threat such as N Marshall…C Newton…D Watson…J Manziel…etc), C Morris (new blood, recruiting well), B McClendon (has picked his recruIting up of top RB’s)…K Olivedetti on the fence (missing out on D Lee, R Foster and R McMillan)…bye, bye to Richt, Grantham, Lakatos, T Ball, and for sure, W Friend….and support staff!!!

John

December 2nd, 2013
7:59 am

ColumbusDawg: So after the last seven or so seasons of the calamity of errors, someone is finally going to schedule a meeting with Mr. McGarity to put pressure on him to get the program fixed? Really? Isnt that the Athletic Directors job to begin with? And we should beleive from this “meeting” that WaLa, everything is going to be fixed because CMR and CTG will finally get the message? LMAO! I have one question for the 4 LARGE Hartman Fund Contributors- what took you so long to see something the rest of us “regular fans that sit in regular seats” have been saying for years?

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

December 2nd, 2013
7:59 am

Well once again we beat a has been program that doesnt care much for athletics in GT; and since we beat GT again the season is a success even though we lost to Vandy

:roll:

We saw the same things we’ve been seeing for almost a decade;

inconsistent O-line
poor defensive play
poor special teams

and once again nothing will be done

get ready for another 3 or more losses next year with an exciting possibility of a 2 loss season

hip hip hooray

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 2nd, 2013
8:01 am

JB – RIGHT! Au-Barn had MOST of their starters and the entire OL returning from their freshman and soph years. UGA had no such luck on the defensive side. Speaking of LUCK. Au-Barn had that too.

Chris Burnette & Dallas Lee will be in the NFL next year. UGA will miss them.

John

December 2nd, 2013
8:04 am

Yes, Russell decommitted!!! His reason was he wanted to go somewhere that was committed to winning

Bama Fan #2

December 2nd, 2013
8:05 am

Give Mark Richt and the other coaches credit for not letting the
players throw in the towel after all the injuries. Defense has to
pick up or Georgia will have another 8 win season in 2014.
RTR

John

December 2nd, 2013
8:11 am

Defense has to
pick up or Georgia will have another 8 win season in 2014.
RTR

LMAO!!!!!!!!!!! We have been saying this since 2007!

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 2nd, 2013
8:13 am

SABAN really blew it – losing MILLIONS for the Roll T_rds. His special teams SUCKED big time – even though he has a special teams coach. Should SABAN fire his special teams coach?

Why in the world would SABAN do something stupid like kick a 57 yard field goal when all he had to do was run the clock? Poor clock management. Poor conditioning – should SABAN fire his conditioning coach?

Poor defense when it counted… should SABAN fire Kirby Smart?

Poor execution by the offense against a mediocre defense and poor execution by the QB. Should SABAN fire his OC and demote his QB?

Should Saban be on the HOT SEAT?

Erk'd Up

December 2nd, 2013
8:14 am

Consider ‘body of work” when evaluating coaches:
1- Lakatos—3 out of last 4 seasons had us top 20 in pass defense, #4, #1, #5 in interceptions in SEC 3 out of 4 years
2- Grantham–top 35 scoring defense, top 25, top 20, 3 out of 4 years, more turnovers gained than Alabama 3 of 4 years
3- Bobo– top 20 scoring offense 2 of last 3 years, #33 2 years before that

This year was all about turnover margin. The young defense, for the 1st time since Grantham’s been here, had to work on tackling as the foundation. not emphasizing turnovers. And it led to finishing better than Bama in sacks, tackles for loss and rush defense was much improved. I expect the turnovers to be a BIG emphasis in 2013, has to be. Murray, as usual, threw a boatload of interceptions, and untimely fumbles, safeties, poor throws behind the lines, all leading to 20 lost turnovers on offense, Bama had 12, so a -8 gap on offense. Defense gained 14 turnovers, Bama 18, so a -4 gap there. Led to finishing 98th in turnover margin.

Since 2010, offense has lost turnovers of 16, 25, 19, and 20=80 lost turnovers, Bama lost 54
Since 2010, defense gained turnovers of 26, 32, 30, and 14=102 gained turnovers, Bama gained 93

Consider Super Bowl record is 29-2 for team that wins turnovers. So offense has much to do if you look at body of work compared to elite team Bama in #1 stat, where defense, looking at body of work, is elite.

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 2nd, 2013
8:16 am

SABAN didn’t have his team UP for the game…. must be getting fat and lazy. ONE more loss and SABAN’s on the HOT SEAT for sure!

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 2nd, 2013
8:21 am

NO more talk about hiring MusChump for DC…. can’t even beat Georgia Southern.

Dawgs got to much depth on the DL chart coming back to suit Dontavius Russell. Doesn’t want to be redshirted.

Ohio State is going to get SMOKED by Michigan State. Ohio State has not beat a top 10 team since 2006. Urban Meyer will lose the next two games and QUIT again.

Next Gator HC? Steve Arrogance?

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 2nd, 2013
8:24 am

Hutson Mason ain’t no Aaron Murray yet – that’s for sure.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

December 2nd, 2013
8:27 am

Earth to Flo-ri-duh

Saban has won 4 national titles

Richt has “”played”" in 0 national titles

Erk'd Up

December 2nd, 2013
8:29 am

Olividotti has had this in the last 4 years:
Dent #2 in conference tackles
Ogletree #5 in conference tackles
Wilson #1 in conference tackles
Herrera #2 in conference tackles

Strong 3 of 4 years.

DLine Coach Wilson has only been here for 1 year but:
Drew and Smith were much improved in sacks and tackles for loss
run defense improved by over 40 yards over 2012
1st time in 4 years a dlineman had 58 tackles (Smith)

Erk'd Up

December 2nd, 2013
8:39 am

Rush offense body of work not impressive in conference over 4 years:
#10, #7, #4, #11

OLine not impressive in sacks allowed (or run offense) in conference over 4 years
#7, #11, #8, #5

Running backs coach should be fired, not getting production consistently from that unit
Need a world class oline coach too, numbers have not been good in sacks allowed or run offense

Erk'd Up

December 2nd, 2013
8:44 am

Pass offense over 4 years has been:
#5, #2, #4, and #2 in yards

In turnovers lost in last 4 years offense ranks in conference:
#2, #8, #7, #8

Interceptions lost over 4 years in conf on offense:
#3, #10, #9, #8

Mike Bobo has not fixed this issue of turnovers lost yet. I would give him 1 more chance to fix the turnover thing, then fire him if he doesn’t finish top 3 there in the conference like Bama always does.